Monday, September 3, 2018

Nova Ren Suma Author Interview

Photo Credit: Erik Ryerson

Nova Ren Suma is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Walls Around Us, a finalist for an Edgar Award. Her new novel A Room Away from the Wolves is forthcoming September 4, 2018, from Algonquin. She also wrote Imaginary Girls and 17 & Gone and is co-creator of FORESHADOW: A Serial YA Anthology. She has an MFA in fiction from Columbia University and teaches at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up in the Hudson Valley, spent most of her adult life in New York City, and now lives in Philadelphia.


Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers (September 4, 2018)
Language: E

ISBN-10: 1616203730

ISBN-13: 978-1616203733


"Terrific . . . a Gothic love letter to secret places of New York City and the runaway girls who find them.” —Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble, 2016 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Fiction

“Suma drapes her dark, enigmatic novel in a gauzy, supernatural veil, under which readers will observe a runaway teen’s search for safety and an understanding of her mother’s past . . . Suma’s surreal writing examines the blurred edges of life, lies, freedom, and mother-daughter relationships, leaving the reader with questions and a tangled sense of wonder.” —Julia Smith for Booklist

“Nova Ren Suma surpasses herself with this gorgeously-told, mesmerizing, tense and twisted story about the ways in which mothers fail their daughters, the lies that daughters tell their mothers, and the love that girls show one another when all the wolves are closing in.” —Laura Ruby, National Book Award Finalist and Printz-Winning author of Bone Gap

"Eerie and atmospheric as only Nova Ren Suma can write, A Room Away From the Wolves is a page-turning thrill. Its unforgettable protagonist is cut from the sharpest sentences and the achiest pieces of life—I couldn’t tear my eyes away. Gulp this one down and prepare to be left shivery and spooked and a little bit heartbroken.” —Emily X.R. Pan, New York Times bestselling author of The Astonishing Color of After

What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I am very afraid of ghosts. Even though I write ghost stories, I’m easily frightened when I hear stories from others… to the point that if I have to spend a night somewhere I think even might be haunted, I can barely sleep and don’t want to see or hear anything unusual. I have to use a white-noise machine and keep a light on.

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
I’ve been writing since I was a child, but it wasn’t until I was a teenager that the dream crystallized and starting pushing me forward. I used it as an escape hatch to get out of my small town. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to live in New York City. I wanted to work for a book publisher and publish my own short stories. All of those dreams did come true, and now the creative dream has shifted. What’s next?

If you could be a character in any novel you’ve ever read, who would you be and why?
I would be Morgan in the Sweep series by Cate Tiernan. I’ve always wanted to be a witch.

In your newest novel; A ROOM AWAY FROM THE WOLVES, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it
A Room Away from the Wolves is a ghost story about the tangled bonds between mother and daughter, complicated female friendship, and needing to find a place to belong. The story takes place when my main character Bina runs away to stay in a boardinghouse, a refuge for troubled girls in the heart of New York City. This is a house full of supernatural secrets, living memories, and a door to the face the past, while all along its founder, Catherine, watches from a framed photograph on the wall above the fireplace. During one intense summer month, Bina discovers that her choice to stay or go may be entirely out of her hands.

For those who are unfamiliar with Bina, how would you introduce her?
Bina begins the story on the side of the road upstate, with a stuffed suitcase and a black eye. She’s escaping to the city… and she both hopes and fears that her mother will go looking for her. Bina is broken and running from her mistakes, but she’s about to get a second chance. A magical one that may be more sinister than she ever imagined.

What part of Monet did you enjoy writing the most?
Monet is Bina’s downstairs neighbor in the boardinghouse. She was a delight to write because she is a complete enigma—a mystery unfolding right before our eyes. Bina is desperate to find out who Monet really is, beneath all her layers. But does an enigma ever truly reveal herself? What would be the fun otherwise?

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I would like to be mentored by the ghost of Shirley Jackson.

Except I revealed above that I’m actually pretty afraid of ghosts… so perhaps I should be careful what I wish for.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
No one has the power to tell you what you’re capable of doing or becoming. When someone underestimates you, or ignores you, or puts you down, use that as the fuel to try that much harder, to push yourself that much further. Your own work and belief in yourself is the key. 

What were you doing at midnight last night?
Checking on the status of the fundraising campaign for FORESHADOW: A Serial YA Anthology and feeling hopeful! My co-creator Emily X.R. Pan are launching this new online venue to publish YA short stories. Check out our debut to the world, Issue Zero, here:

When you looked in the mirror first thing this morning, what was the first thing you thought?
I’m late!

If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be?
I would not let fear dictate what I wrote next. I would reach back into the past and give myself more courage to choose the harder road sooner.

What do you usually think about right before falling asleep?
All the things I have to do tomorrow cascade over me, like a monster crouching down on my chest, making me sink lower and lower, deeper and deeper, into the bed. But then, right before I blink off into full unconsciousness, thoughts flicker about the new novel I’m writing. Ideas churn. Images glow. Lines reveal themselves. No matter how far I sink, there’s always a new idea to lift me up.

What is your happiest childhood memory?
The day my baby sister was born. I witnessed it happen—my mom had a home birth—and I may have blocked out some of the more graphic bits, because all I remember is this great joy when I saw my little sister for the first time and got to hold her. I never loved anyone so much.

What was a time in your life when you were really scared?
The last time I (thought I) saw a ghost! I was having a hard time sleeping when I was away teaching at Vermont College of Fine Arts, tossing and turning in my bed, and when I turned over, there was a man standing over me. He had ethereal glowing white hair and was leaning forward… not menacingly, more like he was curious and wondered who I was. I FREAKED OUT, screamed, turned on the lamp, and shook under the covers for minutes afterward… The man was gone. There was no one in my room, no one at all. Later, I found out that the campus was once used as a Civil War hospital and the house I was staying in was where the doctors lived.

I think it was probably all an over-exhausted hallucination, just my mind playing tricks on me… right? Right?

Bina has never forgotten the time she and her mother ran away from home. Her mother promised they would hitchhike to the city to escape Bina’s cruel father and start over. But before they could even leave town, Bina had a new stepfather and two new stepsisters, and a humming sense of betrayal pulling apart the bond with her mother—a bond Bina thought was unbreakable.

Eight years later, after too many lies and with trouble on her heels, Bina finds herself on the side of the road again, the city of her dreams calling for her. She has an old suitcase, a fresh black eye, and a room waiting for her at Catherine House, a young women’s residence in Greenwich Village with a tragic history, a vow of confidentiality, and dark, magical secrets. There, Bina is drawn to her enigmatic downstairs neighbor Monet, a girl who is equal parts intriguing and dangerous. As Bina’s lease begins to run out, and nightmare and memory get tangled, she will be forced to face the terrible truth of why she’s come to Catherine House and what it will take for her to leave...

You can purchase A Room Away from the Wolves at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you ALGONQUIN AND NOVA for making this giveaway possible.
Winner will receive a Copy of A Room Away from the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma. 
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  1. What I just got done reading in my book.

  2. "What do you usually think about right before falling asleep?" "Don't think. Don't think."